When I was a child my family did not own a television. For this I cannot thank my parents enough. (The destructiveness of television is a topic for another weblog entry.) At the time, though, we kids felt cruelly deprived of our right to watch Happy Days, Laverne and Shirley, Wide World of Sports, and Saturday morning cartoons.
Many Saturdays we’d bike the half mile to Kurt Gunderson’s house where we’d sprawl on the orange shag carpet in the living room, where we’d eat sugared cereals (another right of which we were unjustly deprived by evil parents) and laugh at the adventures of Bugs Bunny and Road Runner, or puzzle at the completely foreign world of Fat Albert and his gang. (We were white kids raised in rural Oregon; what did we know of impoverished black kids in New York?)
Our babysitters had it easy: they simply had to bring along a portable 9″ black-and-white set and we were tamed from wild maniacs to sedate zombies, staring blankly at the screen. With us so easily subdued, the sitter was free to gab on the phone for hours at a time or to invite a friend (sometimes a boyfriend) for a visit.
Family vacations were a treat; the hotels rooms always had televisions. Mom and Dad would try to convince us to go to sleep, but it was useless if there was anything good on TV. And by good I mean: a war movie, a science fiction program, Happy Days, The Six Million Dollar Man, or The Bionic Woman. (ch – ch – ch – ch – ch – ch Look at my bionic jump!)
I only saw a handful of Wild Kingdom episodes, but the show left its mark. The locales were exotic, the animals fantastic. I could not get enough. Marlon Perkins, despite his age, lived a thrilling life, meeting wild and fantastic animals up close, daring danger without a thought. He was a heroic figure to an eight-year-old.
There are those of us who believe that animals are far more intelligent than most people credit them. Kris and I like to find new studies and new anecdotes that support this belief. Yesterday she pointed me to this article on orangutan culture.
(The article refers to a study published today in the journal Science. The study can be found here, but requires free registration. The study was conducted, at least in part, by a member of Orangutan Foundation International.)
I believe that if you have never had a close personal relationship with an animal, have never witnessed an animal exhibit profoundly intelligent behavior, then this says more about your intelligence than the intelligence of animals.
Assorted animal intelligence links:
- From the PBS series Inside the Animal Mind: Are animals intelligent?, Do animals have emotions?, and Animal consciousness
- The evolution of primate intelligence
- Sir David Attenborough’s The Life of Birds
- Crows and Ravens: Birds of Mystery and Intrigue
- Crows exceed expected intelligence levels (a repeat link, I know)
- Wild Kingdom drinking game
While composing this entry that I realized that Toto, my cat, has exactly the same personality as Gandalf, the parakeet I had when I was twelve.
There are weblog awards? Somebody ought to do a study on they psychological motivation to give awards for anything and everything!
On 03 January 2003 (11:01 AM),
On 03 January 2003 (11:39 AM),
On 03 January 2003 (02:15 PM),
On 07 February 2003 (07:45 PM),
Ryan Reynolds said:
On 20 August 2003 (08:05 AM),